Friday, July 22, 2011

To My Online Summer Studentz

Dear Student 1: Your first essays were suspiciously eloquent, considering that when you took this same class last fall you could barely string two words together without making a mistake. I know this time you were getting someone else to do your work, but there was not much I could do about it. This didn’t bother me, because I knew it was just a matter of time until that far more eloquent person got sick and tired of doing it. That took about a week, and you are now back to your old standard of cluelessly strangled prose dotted with proofreading and factual errors. You’re going to get another D, Student 1. Or fail outright. Why? Because the Nun’s Priest is not a lady, that’s why.

Dear Students 2 and 3: You’d think that students sharing their work would at least attempt to conceal that fact, by perhaps changing the odd font both papers share to something more ordinary, or not centering the entire text of both essays. You’d think. You’d also think that really stupid students incapable of reading the assignment and responding with any degree of intelligence would keep their work to themselves. But you two are not smart enough to know how stupid you are. Thus: you fail. Why? Because the Canterbury pilgrims did not travel to the island of St. Thomas to escape a drought, that’s why.

Dear Student 4: What part of “do not copy and paste text from Wikipedia and present it as your own work” don’t you understand? The whole part, apparently. Do you think I am some sort of deluded moron? Telling me that you didn’t look at Wikipedia when your text matches the Wikipedia text exactly only makes me angry. You wouldn’t like me when I’m angry. You’re an idiot and you fail. Why? Because telling me you’ve gotten away with this before and haven’t been failed as of yet doesn’t really help your case, dumbass, that’s why.

Dear Student 5:
I can feel you straining to convince me you are a good student, whose grades in my class are somehow aberrational. You’re doing this by writing me every day and expressing concern about said grades, which are in the low C, high D range (and that was only because I was feeling charitable). Well, Student 5, I have speshul powerz, which include being able to access your entire transcript within about thirty seconds. Guess what? Your GPA is a 1.92. No surprise, as you have completely ignored my suggestion to turn your drafts in early so that I can comment upon them. This would be too difficult for you, obviously. It seems as if merely using spell-check is too difficult for you. Instead, you complain about your grade after the fact, in a tone that indicates you are under the assumption that you are Mary Poppins, “practically perfect in every way,” which I somehow lack the vision to perceive. Now, you state emphatically, “it’s time to set up a meeting.” You are going to get a D anyway, Ms. Poppins. Why? Because attempting to look concerned about your grade, and demanding an in-person meeting, is no substitute for actually following the teacher’s suggestions, and doing the difficult work of trying to improve. That’s why.

Dear Student 6: I don’t care how many hours you’re working. In fact, if I actively tried to care less, I doubt I could achieve it. Do you care how many hours I’m working, having to respond to daily emails complaining about how many hours you’re working? Work your ass off Student 6. You still fail. Why? Because I don’t give a shit how much you’re working, that’s why.


  1. Re: #4: it's entirely possible that this student did not consult Wikipedia, but instead a source that plagiarized from Wikipedia (or vice versa). Several of the "research help" pages reprint Wikipedia content (in most cases labeled as Wikipedia content). But (s)he's still an idiot, and a plagiarist, and deserves to fail (as do 1-3, and 6 if (s)he isn't doing the work, though I might feel just a bit sorry for 6 if the emails were apologetic rather than entitled, but it sounds like that's probably not the case).

  2. Ah, the dual frustration of dealing with students who don't read the material AND can't write. I feel your pain, Stella.

  3. I've never had a Student 1 -- probably because my students who are too dumb to do their own work have only dumb friends who couldn't do it for them.

    I've had Students 2 and 3 several times. In last semester's version, I learned from them that the Jaycees are a prison gang.

    I particularly like when Student 4 doesn't change font or delete hyperlinks!

    I don't have the superpowers to do what you did to Student 5. I'm envious.

    I'll have Student 6 again in the fall. I may need to use your, "In fact, if I actively tried to care less, I doubt I could achieve it" line. Of course, the dimwit will probably think I'm complimenting him.


  5. Stella, I've had them all. If I could share my post-surgical meds with you, I would. Thankfully my sub is dealing with some variety of each of them during my absence, but I'll get their reincarnations in my fall classes.

  6. Thank you Stella. I can't resist adding one of my own. Please forgive me for copying your style.

    Dear Student 7: Reminding me every class that you waited until your senior year to take freshman-level math is unnecessary. It is clear that your reasoning skills are empty and it is astounding that your major is permitted at an academic institution. No, a table that has 2 rows and 2 columns does not have 3 rows and 4 columns. It is clear that you are unhappy with your C as such a grade is not given out in your major. But I will be generous and give you a C anyway. Why? Because telling me that it is too confusing to have to do problems that aren't exactly like exam problems shows you don't want to think, are incapable of thinking, and just pisses me off. That's why.

  7. Thank you, thank you, Stella!

    Dear Students 8-16: When I explained that technical writing is different from book reports and essays about your feelings I also warned that only technical writing was acceptable for this course. I told you that subject-verb-object sentences were required, with citations at the ends of sentences. I told you to write about the behavior of people, not to report the activities of researchers designated by their full names and affiliations. It is clear that your reasoning skills are as empty as the vessel of your curiousity and that your thoughts are as shallow as the evaporating puddles on the irrigated university sidewalks. Your ability to listen stops with text message alerts. You treat the second-hand, mis-reported, misrepresented versions of the instructions blathered by your classmates as equivalent to anything I write/say about the subject. You are all going to make D's or F's. Why? Because my instructions are not just pirate guidelines and if you've been able to resist twelve years of instruction on writing your native tongue, I cannot overcome your willful ignorance in 8 weeks.

  8. Oh, Stella! I think we must be teaching at the same place or our students are taking classes at both places at the same time!


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.